We are living in a strange world where we would rather connect through our phones than with the people who are physically beside us. In a world where social media is being accused of isolating us, I find that it is also opening up relationships that I otherwise would not have found.
Meet Kristine, founder of Table and Co. She reached me through Instagram one random day and before I knew it, my introverted self was chatting with her in a coffee shop like I had known her forever.
She shared her business story and how she juggles life with a toddler. But more importantly, she reminded me why I love meeting small shop moms. I was delighted to find that she has balloon garlands and massive backdrop displays in the living room of her one bedroom apartment. (As for me, my living room is filled with boxes of letterboards so I can relate!) She has secretly covered half her parking stall with tarp and snuck some more props in there. As long as strata doesn’t find out, she’s good!
As I was eating my bacon brunch, she told me all about how she had a pet pig until the age of 9. One day, her grandpa said that the pet pig had to go home to his family and took it away. She never saw him again.
We talked about our cultures and how we were raised. Kristine is a girl whose life has brought her to isolated corners of the earth. She shared her superstitions with me and since then, I have been knocking on closed doors for three times before I open it. It’s to let the spirits inside the room know that I am home now and will be entering.
The details and hustle remind me that there is a real person behind the facade of pretty squares. Someone who is much more relatable to us than we would think. These are the reasons why I support small business.
Let’s meet Kristine.
What is Table and Company?
Table and Company is a curated dessert table business that aims to elevate the way we celebrate the milestones in our lives. These kind of occasions only come once and we want to encourage everyone to create a beautiful environment to commemorate that special day with their loved ones. One thing we can give is the gift of time and alleviate your stress by letting you fully enjoy the moment and trust that our team will take care of all the details of the setup from the backdrop to the food.
How did you end up where you are today?
I originally just loved baking. Then I was fortunate to meet a lady who once owned a baking store and she taught me the basics and how to make sugar flower decorations. My creativity just took off from there and before I knew it, I was making cakes for weddings and special events.
If you notice, I also only do one style which is very focused on flowers and have a soft romantic theme. I realized that was the kind of style I wanted to master very early on in my cake journey. I never found it in me to create themed cakes such as spiderman or Minecraft!
I wanted people to know me specializing in this particular style as I am to attract like minded clients
2 years into my cake journey I found out I was having my daughter. I took a break from baking to have her, then while in the midst of breastfeeding and postpartum, I desperately needed an escape to feel like my old self. I obsessed about doing something for her 1st birthday party and ended up creating a really lovely floral garden themed dessert table for her. To be honest, it was the first time for me to spend money on a celebration, I don’t even do it for myself or my husband. But it’s true that you’d do anything for your kids and because of the fact that I managed to keep my baby alive that first year and keep myself alive is a big deal and I wanted to celebrate the both of us in style.
I filled the table with desserts that I loved, brownies, petit fours, donuts, mini cakes, meringue kisses and filled it with soft romantic flowers that gave it that special touch. It was the first table that I created and it was so apt because it was for my daughter and it just reflected my love for her, my love for celebrations, and my little victories as a new mom.
It was also the table that gave me the opportunity to connect with my florist friend Robin and my photographer Annie, both are moms now and i’ll always be thankful to that moment for connecting me with people that are now part of my collective
So you see, these tables or environments are not just lavish and luxiorious statements to show off, but they are really a medium for memories that will last a lifetime. Kinda like music, whenever you hear it, it takes you back to that time. I want my tables to be something like that. That it would always give the client lovely memories with their loved ones.
Now back to Table and Company, it was because of that table I designed for Maya that made me realize I want to create something more than just a cake. I want to share an experience through these beautifully styled tables.
I also realized that I cannot do this on my own. Hence the “company” in the brand – it truly takes a village to let me create these displays, and I always want to highlight my talented group of creatives to help me bring it to life.
It took a looooooong time that was slow and steady. In total I think I was off baking for about almost 3 years as I thought about a proper game plan for how to move forward. I told myself that if I will put myself out there again, I want to do it properly. And i’ve been fortunate to make the right connections that helped me create this brand that I love.
What are some “mistakes” that you’ve made, and how did you overcome them?
One of the main ones was relying on friends and family to help me with my branding and business. It took forever to get a result from someone and I wasn’t in a position to complain because it was free! The logo for my old brand was cute, but it didn’t really mean anything, and didn’t reflect the style I was trying to specialize in. There was a huge disconnect and it was probably why I didn’t want to pursue it anymore.
This was also one of the reasons that made me realize its not a good idea to “borrow” things from friends when putting together a celebration because you end up just settling in the end just to “make it work”. I don’t want that for the business and the brand, I want it to feel right. So by eliminating asking favors and started actively seeking help from people I don’t know, gave me the chance to build a brand I am proud of.
What are your current challenges?
As every new and small business can attest, lack of funds and manpower are some of the biggest challenges we face. For me currently, it’s the lack of funds (lol! Don’t we all wish a bottomless pit of capital cash flow) and a marketing strategy that can push the brand and all the beautiful things we can do out into the world.
I also want to clone myself so that one part can focus on marketing, the other can focus on creating. I have to be honest, it is frustrating that I don’t have the ideal amount of clients that I would like to have, but I know everything takes time.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
The brand showcasing all kinds of artisanal products. Table and Co is created to provide a platform for any kind of product be it watches, wine, shoes, clothes etc to be showcased in a luxurious and elegant way. Right now it showcases primarily desserts, because that is what I personally love to do. But I hope to collaborate with more business owners and help them show off their products by making use of well designed backdrops and elegant florals.
What advice would you give to women who are struggling to find their passion?
Don’t be afraid to try new things. I dove into Table and Co with my eyes closed but heart open. It may not be the wisest, but it’s what ignites my passion.
So for other women, don’t stop learning and don’t be guilty to find time to try new things on your own (without your kids). We all have the “guilt” but we can’t be better mothers if we don’t improve and love ourselves.
Where did you find the courage to take the first step in making your business a reality? My daughter and my desperate need to get over postpartum anxiety. Also as a new mom, it was so hard for me to adjust to my new normal with a baby. Pursuing my love of styling and desserts really pushed me to create another version of myself that had a different purpose. At first I thought it was just something that would distract me from postpartum, but it led to me discovering that I really love what I do now. The displays I create come from a place where the inspiration flows so easily. It feels very organic and true to myself.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business but does not have the seed money or connections?
The community within the industry you want to go into is so supportive. This will sound cheesy, but what you truly want and passionate about attracts the people who can help you. It’s hard to explain, but for me, I met my wonderful group just through social media. There was a connection with them and I made sure to nourish that and grow it. I approached them and shared my passion, I’ve been lucky that they felt it and want to be involved and support what I love to do.
I am also always honest that I have zero money to fund anything. But you know what, for some reason, I find extra income to fund my photoshoots through small dessert orders.
One of the girls I connected also advised for me to try going to some of the banks and get a line of credit. I am not a business person, but I knew what I wanted to create. So I went to Vancity and told them my plans. I didn’t have a proper business at the time so I got a line of credit that gave me the funds to afford working with a branding agency that designed my logo, then I used the rest to purchase the displays in my inventory.
I really don’t have a proper plan in place till now, and it might not be good business practice, but I tend to go with my gut. As long as it feels right, i will be willing to collaborate and connect.
I have to be honest that I sometimes find it so sloooooow to earn the money back, but something tells me it’s just a matter of time.
Trust your talent, trust the people you connected with, trust your gut and everything will fall into place.